Meghalaya: Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigns over Cheristerfield encounter

Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC) also wrote to the CM to seek a detailed report on the incident.


Meghalaya cabinet minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigned from the Home portfolio on Sunday expressing “shock” on the recent police encounter of the former leader of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew, who was killed on the wee hours of Friday on suspicion of being a part of a possible planned blast.

Rymbui said that the encounter of police exceeded “the lawful tenets of the law” and requested Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma to relieve him of his duties as the minister-in-charge of Home (Police) Department to “facilitate free and fair enquiry taken by the government to bring out the truth of the incident.”

“This is done so that any inquiry that the government will do will be clean and clear and will not render any doubts to the public. I suggest to the CM to conduct a judicial inquiry … so that whatever happened on that day will come out clear, “ Rymbui, the United Democratic Party (UDP) legislator from Amlarem constituency, said.

The decision comes following a closed-door meeting of the UDP, which was held on Sunday, where Rymbui had already expressed his desire to step down from the post, even as party leaders including Paul Lyngdoh and Titos Chyne had requested UDP president Metbah Lyngdoh to seek a report on the Cheristerfield encounter.

Rymbui’s resignation comes at a time when pressure on him was mounting due to activities of HNLC, a proscribed militant outfit which shouldered responsibility for two blasts in the state in less than a month – one at a police reserve at Khliehriat in East Jaintia Hills and the other at Laitumkhrah market in Shillong.

Rymbui had also admitted intelligence failure following the second blast at Laitumkhrah which injured a few, immediately after which the police department acted on supposed tangible evidence to take action against Cheristerfield to avoid a third blast.

The encounter drew flak from various sections of the society, including a conglomeration of about 10 organisations from Mawlai – where Cheristerfield lived – and Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR), who condemned the killing of the 54-year-old citing violation of human rights and had demanded Rymbui’s resignation.

The Mawlai conglomeration, functioning under the banner, Ka Sur u Paidbah Mawlai (the voice of Mawlai people), also put up black flags along the procession route of Cheristerfield’s funeral and said it will observe a “black flag day” on August 15 to express solidarity with the family members.

Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC) also wrote to the CM to seek a detailed report on the incident.

The encounter however triggered a series of events, leading to violence in some parts of the city including Jaiaw and Mawlai, where some police vehicles were also set ablaze by unidentified miscreants.

To contain the situation, a curfew order and an internet ban was imposed for two days, starting from the evening of Aug 15.

(Edited by Shankar Turha)

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